Gluten free baking

Posted in information on February 23rd, 2019 by stuart — 2 Comments

While making scones recently with my gluten free pudding flour, I realised that I am finally getting a grasp on some of the differences between baking with wheat, and baking without wheat.

  1. Know your flour. Each gluten free flour blend is slightly different, especially if you make your own. You will need to experiment several times with each blend to grasp it characteristics.
  2. Liquid. Be prepared to add up to twice as much liquid as you would do with wheat flour.
  3. Cooking time. Because of the extra liquid, you may need to add cooking time. This will have to be an experimental approach. Any small children (or teenagers) in your family are usually happy to help dispose of the failures!
  4. Leavening. You may need more leavening as there is no gluten structure to help lift the dough, and the binding agents (such as xanthan gum) have different characteristics to gluten.
  5. Thrash the dough. No, seriously. Wheat baking has taught you to just mix till it comes together: gluten free baking needs the dough to be thoroughly thrashed otherwise the complex mix of starches, flours, and gums may not come together and thus fail to rise, or you may end up with an oddly “gritty” texture.
  6. Resting time. I have no anecdata to back this, but it seems to depend on what you are making whether or not you need to rest the dough after soundly thrashing it. My gut feeling is that no resting time is needed except for pie dough, but my GF pie dough experiments have not filled me with confidence.
  7. Texture. I have discovered that the flour mix frequently results in a much more delicate, airy texture in quick breads and bakes and has resulted in a change in preference decisively towards the gluten free flour blend.


The key takeaway from my experiments is that flexibility is needed. You may wish to enlist experimental test subjects willing participants in your tests. Small children and colleagues are usually happy to help you in this endeavour!

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Tomato Ketchup

Posted in information, recipe, sauce on January 10th, 2019 by stuart — Be the first to comment!

Home made tomato ketchup is always demoralising. You spend a whole day, and a load of not-cheap ingredients, all to make something which is almost as good as you can get in the store.

Then I discovered this recipe. It actually makes sense how it all comes together, and it’s delicious. It’s not the same as store bought, but it exists in a different place on the same plane. Enjoy!

    • 5lb / 2.25kg ripe tomatoes (or equivalent in canned, crushed tomatoes – two 28oz/795g cans)
    • 1 onion
    • 6 cloves
    • 4 allspice berries
    • 1 oz / 25g fresh ginger, sliced
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
    • 1 parsnip, peeled, quartered, and roasted OR 1 celery heart
    • 2 tbsp light brown sugar *
    • 4.5 tbsp / 65ml raspberry vinegar *
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 tbsp salt

Peel and seed the tomatoes (or open the can!) and place in a large saucepan. Peel the brown papery leaves from the onion, leaving the roots and the tip intact. Stud the cloves into the onion and place in the pan.

Put the allspice, peppercorns, and ginger into a spice bag or tie them into a small bag of cheesecloth and place into the pan. Add the roasted parsnip to the pan with the sugar, vinegar, garlic, and salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to low heat and simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring regularly, until reduced by half. Remove spice bag. Blend until smooth in a food processor or with a handheld blending stick, then simmer for another 15 minutes. Store in the fridge.

* I ended up doubling both of these to get the taste I was looking for. By doubling these it has also increased the shelf life. I would not recommend boiling water bath processing this recipe as it has not been checked by the USDA. The raspberry vinegar was a pest to acquire – you can make it yourself with raspberries steeped in vinegar, or you can try it with other vinegars such as malt, cider, wine, balsamic….

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Gluten free pudding flour

Posted in information, pudding, recipe on November 3rd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
I recently discovered that I can’t eat wheat, which is a major downer when making pudding. After a lot of poking around and trying out various flour substitute recipes from various gluten free sources, I found this recipe:

  • 700 grams cornstarch
  • 500 grams tapioca starch
  • 300 grams white rice flour
  • 200 grams brown rice flour
  • 200 grams nonfat milk power
  • 100 grams potato flour
  • 20 grams xanthan gum

This does, indeed, make a wonderful substitute for wheat flour. However… however, there’s a lot of weird ingredients there. They are also quite costly. I wasn’t going to let weird and expensive get in the way of making pudding, now was I?

So let’s break this list down.


  • 700 grams cornstarch

OK, this is a dirt cheap and common ingredient.


  • 500 grams tapioca starch

OK, not cheap in your local grocery store.


  • 300 grams white rice flour

Not readily available, and certainly not cheap.


  • 200 grams brown rice flour

.. what the what now?


  • 200 grams nonfat milk power

OK, back on normal ground.


  • 100 grams potato flour

… you’re kidding, right?


  • 20 grams xanthan gum

You’re definitely kidding now, that doesn’t even exist, does it? … it costs HOW MUCH?!!?


OK, time to take a deep breath and break down the weird and expensive stuff. The ingredients break down into 3 categories: whole grain flour, starches, and support ingredients.

Brown rice flour, Buckwheat flour, Corn (Maize) flour, Mesquite flour, Millet flour, Oat flour, Quinoa flour, Sorghum flour, and Teff flour all work as “whole grain flour” for the purposes of this recipe.

Arrowroot flour, Cornstarch, Potato flour, Potato starch, Sweet (also called glutinous) rice flour, Tapioca flour, White rice flour, are all starches for this purpose.

Wait, what about potato flour? If you have instant potato flakes and a food processor or spice grinder, you have potato flour!

Dried milk powder is available in pretty much every store. Shop by price. Xanthan gum is more difficult, and expensive. It is there to be a thickener/binding agent to replace gluten. There are some other options for the thickener such as psyllium husk powder. These kind of ingredients can be found in health food type stores such as Whole Foods or Sprouts in the USA, or online at Unfortunately there is no real substitute for these ingredients, and they are expensive. Thankfully you only tend to use a very small amount in each recipe. Shop by price.


So, let’s break down the flour recipe.
700 grams cornstarch + 500 grams tapioca starch + 300 grams white rice flour

That’s 1.5kg of starches from different sources. Check out the starches list above to see which you can get for a decent price near you.


200 grams brown rice flour – use whichever of the “whole grain” flours above you can source at a good price.


200 grams nonfat milk power – shop by price.


100 grams potato flour – no need to substitute this. You’ve got the potato flakes and food processor, right?


20 grams xanthan gum – yeah, OK, that’s expensive. Bite the bullet and put it in, it’s only a couple of tablespoons worth.


By percentages: 75% starches, 10% whole grain flour, 10% milk powder, 5% potato flour. Add your xanthan gum, mix thoroughly, and label clearly.

So why should you, person who doesn’t have a problem with wheat and/or gluten, make up an exotic concoction like this? Because this mix makes the most ridiculously light and fluffy puddings, muffins that evaporate in your mouth, and allows your friends or family who do have wheat/gluten issues to enjoy some delicious pudding!



When using this blend to make a pie crust, the good news is you don’t have to worry about over-working and making a tough crust: no gluten! You do, however, need to work it a bit more thoroughly than wheat flour to make sure all the fat is fully incorporated into the flour. I have also found this blend to be a little more “thirsty” than wheat, so be prepared to add a little more liquid to make your pie crust.

Mind you, if you’re making your pie crust with butter (as you should!) you’ll probably be OK on the extra liquid!

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Spotted dick pudding

Posted in British food, dessert, pudding on November 2nd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
Also known as spotted duff or spotted dog, the words “dick, duff, dog” all derive from the word “dough”. Any other suggestion comes from a smutty mind πŸ˜‰

Spotted dick is your basic steamed pudding. These ingredients will show up frequently here…


  • 8oz / 240g self raising flour
  • 4oz / 120g unsalted butter OR suet
  • 3oz / 80g caster / powdered sugar
  • *pinch of salt if using unsalted self raising flour
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until just combined (note: not the creaming method, just incorporation). Beat in the flour.


  • 8oz / 240g dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, goldens, craisins, cherries….), soaked in brown liquor, then drained
  • to the batter.

    add up to

  • 160ml / 5.5oz cold milk
  • to the batter, just enough to bring it together in a somewhat firm dough.

    Place dough in a well buttered pudding basin and steam for 2 hours OR microwave for around 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Microwaving time will really depend on your own experience with your micro – for me, about 5 minutes nuke then rest for a couple of minutes.

    Your duff/dick/dog is ready when it is just set. Serve with lashings of freshly made custard and a nice cuppa tea.

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    Duchess’s Pudding

    Posted in British food, dairy, dessert, pudding, recipe on October 22nd, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
  • 120g/4oz unsalted butter
  • 120g/4oz caster / powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150g / 5oz self raising flour
  • 60g / 2oz mixed fruit
  • 30g / 1oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 30g / 1oz chopped walnuts (or more dried fruit, to your taste)
  • almond essence to taste
  • milk
  • Butter your pudding basin.

    Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the egg to the creamed mix, beating well after each addition.

    Sift in the flour, add the fruit, nuts (if using) and almond essence. Add just enough milk to make a soft, slightly wet dough (dropping consistency). Pour batter into the pudding basin, cover, and steam for 2.5 hours OR microwave on high for 5 minutes (based on 750W microwave, adjust to your micro).

    While cooking, make up some fresh custard. Enjoy!

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    Yorkshire Polony

    Posted in British food, recipe, sausages on September 10th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    First things first: no, this is not a recipe for Baloney / Bologna / etc. This is for Yorkshire Polony, a mild cooked sausage from Yorkshire, NE England.

    You will need some special equipment here: a meat grinder, a sausage stuffer, and inedible fibre sausage casings.

    In this ingredient list I will give you percentages of ingredients rather than weight.

  • Lean Pork 100.00%
  • Pork fat 33.33%
  • Cold water 20.00%
  • Rice Flour 13.33%
  • Rusk 13.33%
  • Salt 3.32%
  • White Pepper 1.03%
  • Ground Mace 0.41%
  • Ground Coriander 0.21%
  • Ground Nutmeg 0.21%
  • Ground Cinnamon OR ginger 0.10%
  • All the ingredients are listed as a percentage of the weight of the pork. This makes sure that all the ingredients are in proportion, and you already have a set of digital kitchen scales, don’t you?

    In the case of the mace, this is a difficult and expensive spice to find, so I just add its weight to the weight of the nutmeg and use previously ground nutmeg instead (the kind you buy in the spice aisle of your grocery store). The spice fade will allow the nutmeg to present in a more mace-ish way rather than pungent nutmeg.

    Blend the rusk, rice flour, and water, and place in the fridge for 1 hour before you progress to the next step. If you have made your own rusk, keep a couple of chunks of dry rusk back for the end of the grinding process. Place the meat grinder into your freezer at this time so it can get super cold.

    Cut the pork according to directions on your meat grinder then grind the pork using the finest grinder setting into a very cold bowl.

    Grind the fat into the pork, similarly cut according to instructions. If you kept some dry rusk back, run this through the grinder now as this will help clean out the remnants from the grinder – this just helps with cleanup.

    Add all the salt and the ground spices to the ground meat and fat.

    Add the soaked rusk and flour to the above.

    Work the mix thoroughly with your hands until it all comes together in a sticky mess – this takes a while, probably 5 to 15 minutes to be decisively vague! You will know you have the right texture when it is a huge old sticky mess that won’t fall off your hands. If you’d like to see what this looks like, Scott Rea has a fantastic sausage making tutorial on Youtube.

    Place the sausage mix into your fridge and thoroughly chill for an hour. While this is chilling, put your sausage stuffer into the fridge as well. In sausage making, “keep it frosty” is your motto πŸ™‚ Place your fibre sausage casings into warm water at this time, according to the instructions with the casings.

    While this is all cooling down, set up your largest stock pot or sous vide system with lots of water. You are looking for a temperature of 175f/80c.

    Stuff the casings with a generous amount of stuffing. You want them full, but don’t stuff them rigid, you need to allow some room for expansion while cooking. If you leave a generous space at the end of the casing (a half inch to an inch?), you should be OK.

    (Once all the casings are stuffed, you may have a little of the sausagemeat left over. If you have a frying pan this isn’t a problem…. yum.)

    Tie off the casings and place in your stock pot / sous vide container. Cook for 90 minutes. Pull out the casings and place directly into a bowl full of ice water to crash cool the sausage. Once thoroughly cooled, place in your fridge. Allow the polony to sit at least overnight before you break into it.

    Cut off however many slices you want and gently fry in butter till golden brown and delicious. Serve as part of a full English breakfast, or make it into a sandwich, or just eat it with knife and fork. Or fingers. I won’t judge you πŸ˜‰


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    Posted in cheese, frugal living on August 8th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    Now that I have your attention…. here’s how to make a home made version of Velveeta, only from actual cheese!

  • 1/4 ounce packet unflavoured gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
  • 1 pound (16oz/450g) shredded cheese
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.

    Put gelatin and powdered milk into a blender. Add boiling water and process immediately until smooth. Add cheese and continue blending until mixture is very smooth.

    Pour mixture into pan and smooth out with a spatula. Cover with more plastic wrap then refrigerate until firm.

    Use in any recipe that calls for melty cheese… with the added advantage that you control which cheese it is. I use a blend of cheaper orange block cheese for the bulk of the cheese, then add in a stronger cheese for flavour. You can totally play around with this, using offcuts and bits of leftover cheese to make a cheese loaf that suits you perfectly… then melt it over some delicious burgers, or use it for Mac N Blue Cheese….

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    Satay peanut sauce

    Posted in information, recipe on July 28th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup very hot water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili/garlic paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • The most difficult ingredient to find is likely to be the chili/garlic sauce, which isn’t that hard to find. (The same company that makes Sriracha also makes a chili garlic sauce that does the job nicely.)

    Whisk the first 7 ingredients together in a bowl until fully combined. Add the last 3 ingredients and stir.

    Store in the fridge.

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    Cinnamon rolls

    Posted in information, recipe, sugar on July 9th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    Cinnamon rolls are delicious, but a little bit time consuming to make. It is well worth the effort, though, especially when you get your littles involved in making them!

  • 1/2 cup milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 cup water (120ml)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (375g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar (65g)
  • 1 packet / 1.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • These are the ingredients for an enriched dough. We will be revisiting enriched dough for a number of recipes.

    Add all the ingredients in a large bowl, or a food processor, or mixer with the dough hook. Mix until the dough comes together in a sticky ball. If you’re using a food processor, the dough will suddenly clump around the dough attachment and the body of the processor may start to “walk” across your counter.

    If you are getting your little one to mix it in a bowl, they will need to give the dough a good solid mixing until it all comes together in a soft ball. This should nicely tire out the little one as an added benefit πŸ˜‰

    Turn out the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise once. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a rough rectangle.


  • 1 to 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) ground cinnamon
  • Brush the inside of the dough with the melted butter. Thoroughly mix the sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle liberally over the buttered area, leaving around a half inch (about 1cm) gap at the edge. Loosely roll the dough together to form a tube. Pinch the tail edge to form a seal. Cut the roll into 1 to 1.5 inch slices (2.5cm to 3.75cm). Place them into a lightly buttered baking dish and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until double in size.

    Preheat your oven to 350F / 180C. Bake cinnamon rolls for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Top with water icing.

    While making this recipe, I have sometimes felt a little disgruntled about the appearance of my cinnamon rolls. They are not visually perfect like the ones you get from those multi-zillion dollar companies.

    Thankfully, I eventually realised that once the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls hit people’s noses, nobody cares about what they look like: they are far too busy stuffing their faces and asking for “more, please!” to worry about cosmetic trivia πŸ™‚

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    Water icing

    Posted in recipe, sugar on July 9th, 2018 by stuart — Be the first to comment!
    Water icing is simple and cheap to make. It’s also super flexible, suitable for many sweet treats!

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp hot water
  • a few drops vanilla (optional)
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • other flavourings as appropriate for your recipe
  • Sift the sugar into a bowl. Decide what optional flavourings you are going to add, if any, and have them to hand.

    Stir in the hot water until the icing is a little thicker than you want it to be. Add in any of the optional flavourings you want, then recheck the consistency. Add a little more hot water at a time, if needed, until it reaches the right consistency. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before use.

    What do I mean “right consistency”? It depends on what you want it for. A drizzle on icing would need to be more liquid, icing for cinnamon rolls would be a little thicker. If in doubt make it a little thicker than you think it needs to be, try it on a small sample, then tweak the thickness as necessary.

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